Common Five-lined Skink (CFLS) Habitat Enhancement and Outreach
The Friends of Pinery Park (FOPP) is supporting a Five-lined Skink Habitat Stewardship Project over the next two years with grant funding from the Species at Risk Stewardship Foundation (SARSF)
Most campers are familiar with Pinery's Snapping and Painted Turtles and many of our snakes - just as many people people come to the Visitor Centre to ask where to find an Eastern Hog-nosed Snake as those asking how to avoid them! - but it still comes as a surprise to some that Pinery counts a lizard amongst the reptiles in the park. The common Five-lined Skink is Ontario's only lizard species, and Pinery's dry, sandy soils and coarse woody debris make the perfect habitat for this burrowing reptile.
Common Five-lined Skink adults grow to be about 12-20 centimetres long, are brown or black in colour, and have (unsurprisingly) five white or yellowish stripes running down their backs and sides. The males have orange jaws that turn reddish during breeding season. Most people, however, spot skinks at the juvenile stage, partly thanks to their eye-catching metallic-blue tails. These tails are an important part of a young skink's defense strategy. Should a predator spot them, chances are good that it will aim for the skink's bright blue tail, which may break off if grasped, allowing the lucky skink to escape to safety while the predator is distracted with the wriggling tail fragment. Skinks are able to re-grow lost tails, although never quite as long as they were originally.
Skinks are active during the day, and spend their time looking for insects and spiders to eat or basking in the sun. They are very skittish and can move very quickly, so when you see one, watch quietly, and you may get a good look at one of these small jewel-like animals.
The skinks that live in Pinery are part of a population that is designated Endangered in Ontario; the Endangered Species Act and other provincial and federal legislation protect the species to aid in their recovery. Please join us in working to protect and recover this important component of Ontario's biodiversity by reporting any sightings to staff at the Visitor Centre - it is our hope to greatly increase our understanding of this species this year through focused survey efforts and we need your sightings. You can also protect them by respecting their habitat, staying on designated trails, and reducing your speed and being an alert driver when travelling by car or bicycle in the park and beyond. (Article from 2014 Pinery Tabloid)
Download CFLS information card
For more information about this project go to www.pinerypark.on.ca/skinks.html